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Eighteenth-century Cognac fetches £17k at Christie’s

A bottle of pre-Revolutionary Cognac fetched more than four times its estimate at Christie's yesterday.

La Tour d’Argent Grande Champagne Cognac 1805 in the cellar at Tour d’Argent

The Vieux Cognac Grande Champagne Fine ‘Clos de Griffier’ Café Anglais 1788, realised £17,825 against an estimate of £3,000-£4,000.

The buyer was from Europe, Christie’s said. It said the price is not a record.

‘The estimate for the Clos du Griffier 1788 was based on estimates for similar bottles from that period. We would never base our estimates on a one-off price achieved by a competitor,’ a spokesperson for Christie’s said.

Another ancient bottle, Grande Champagne Cognac ‘La Tour d’Argent’ 1805, went for more than double its estimate, fetching £25,300.

The sale, which finishes today, Friday 14 December, started with 180 lots of ancient Cognacs, Armagnacs, rum, calvados, Port and marc, all from the cellars of the Parisian restaurant La Tour d’Argent.

Also in the sale are rare lots of fine wines including Bordeaux, Burgundy, Alsace, Australia, Italy and elsewhere.

The sale takes place London with a simulcast link to Hong Kong, Asia and the United States.

Other highlights included a rare full case of magnums of Graham’s Port 1897, which realised £9,200.

‘These strong results confirm the buoyancy of the market for rare spirits with excellent provenance,’ Christie’s associate wine specialist Noah May said.

This is the second sale of La Tour d’Argent’s wines: in 2009 owner André Terrail sold 18,000 bottles for more than €1.5m at PIASA’s Salon Hoche in Paris in order to finance the purchase of newer vintages.

Terrail, the third-generation owner of Tour d’Argent, said at a pre-sale dinner at Christie’s earlier this week it was a ‘piece of French history’ being sold, adding that one of the reasons for culling the vast cellars of the restaurant was that older and rarer vintages such as the ancient Cognacs were seldom ordered by customers.

‘We do it to be able to buy more recent vintages and also so that the wines can be taken out and enjoyed by people who really appreciate them.’

Written by Adam Lechmere

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